Somali president resolute after Shebab car bombing

first_imgSomalia’s president vowed Saturday he would not halt efforts to restore peace and security to the country in the wake of a car bomb attack in central Mogadishu by Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels.The huge blast on Friday evening outside a top hotel in Somalia’s capital killed at least four people, including a government official, and wounded 15, according to the government.“I strongly condemn this heinous act of terrorism outside the Maka al Mukurama Hotel by Shebab, which caused deaths and injuries to civilians,” Somalia’s internationally backed president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, said in a statement. “The aim of the attack was to terrorise people in order to stop the huge progress towards peace and stability in Somalia. We say out loudly to Shebab that you will never stop us making huge progress towards peace and stability and good governance,” he added.Officials said one of the country’s top diplomats — Abdulkadir Ali Dhuub, a former acting ambassador to London — was killed when the car bomb exploded outside the hotel, which is popular with officials and businessmen.The statement from the presidency said another blast was averted, with a man carrying a “laptop and explosive items” apprehended while trying to set off a bomb inside the hotel at the same time as the car bomb.In northeastern Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region, authorities said they had also repelled a late Friday night Shebab raid on a prison holding militants.“A group estimated to be 30 to 40 men armed with rocket launchers, machine-guns and hand grenades attacked Bossaso Central Prison,” the regional government said in the statement, adding that its troops “bravely defended the prison and repelled the attackers”.It said no prisoners escaped during the raid, and that Shebab rebels were being pursued into a nearby mountainous area.Shebab militants have been pushed out of Mogadishu but still control large parts of the countryside and have continued to strike at the heart of the capital.In September the group also claimed responsibility for a massacre at an upmarket shopping centre in the Kenyan capital Nairobi that left at least 67 dead.The latest attack comes as the African Union force in Somalia, AMISOM, is asking the UN Security Council to green-light a boost in its numbers as part of efforts to step up offensive operations against the Shebab.It also comes after a US army drone strike on a Shebab convoy last month that officials said killed the rebels’ top suicide bomb-maker.last_img read more

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Hamas slams spying charges against ousted president Morsi

first_imgGAZA CITY – Egypt’s prosecutor-general on Wednesday referred Morsi, three of his former aides, and 31 Muslim Brotherhood leaders to a criminal court to answer charges of espionagePalestinian resistance faction Hamas has denounced espionage allegations leveled against ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi by Egyptian prosecution authorities.“Hamas does not interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs,” group spokesman Salah al-Bardawil told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.Contact with Hamas, he said, should be considered “an honor” for any Arab.“How dare a government or judiciary consider the Palestinian resistance an enemy and criminalize cooperation with it?” he asked.Al-Bardawil called for dismissing the charges against Morsi, which, he asserted, only played into the hands of the Israeli occupation.Egypt’s prosecutor-general on Wednesday referred Morsi, three of his former aides, and 31 Muslim Brotherhood leaders to a criminal court to answer charges of espionage.The men are accused of “conspiring” with Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah to carry out a “terrorist plot” in Egypt, according to a statement issued by the prosecutor-general’s office.The defendants also face charges of financing terrorism and committing acts deemed “harmful to the country’s security and integrity.”last_img read more

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Morocco ranks 97 on the global democracy index report

first_imgTaroudant- A recent report released earlier in December ranked Morocco 97th on the global democracy index. Global Democracy Ranking, an organization based in Vienna, released its 2013 report on the quality of democracy in 115 countries. The report, which was made public earlier in December, ranked Morocco 97th behind a number of Arab and African countries. Morocco is preceded by Kuwait (83), Lebanon (79) and Tunisia (72), which ranks first in the Arab world on the Global Democracy Ranking for 2013, gaining 33 places from the previous years. The kingdom came ahead of Egypt (103), Libya (108) and Yemen (115), which is the last Arab country on the ranking.One may question the credibility of such a report that ranked Morocco, which underwent remarkable political reforms in recent years, at the bottom of the ranking in comparison to countries that are still facing political unrest and social upheaval and where the rights of minorities are hardly protected, such as Liberia, (74), Timor Leste (76), Sri Lanka (82) or Sierra Leone (87).  Unsurprisingly, the most democratic countries, according to the report, are found in Scandinavia, with Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, and Denmark occupying the first four spots on the list, and Norway rounding out the top five.Headquartered in Vienna, Austria, Global Democracy Ranking is an association that produces an annual global ranking of democracies worldwide. Its report takes into account a number of indexes, namely politics (50%), gender (10%), economy (10%), knowledge (10%), health (10%) and environment. © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

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Heavy rains force closure of roads in southern Morocco

Tata – Heavy rainfall hit Saturday and Sunday the town of Tata (southern Morocco) causing the closure of several roadways in the region including a national road and other provincial roads and rural tracks.A section of the national road No 12 (RN12) linking Tata to Zagora and Foum El Hisn and several provincial roads are closed due to heavy rains, the provincial director of Public Works, Transport and Logistics Mohamed Mohamed Lahfir told MAP.Rainwater flooded many provincial and rural roads leading to Tata, causing the isolation of several douars, added Lahfir, noting that no casualties or serious damages were reported. read more

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Rif Protest Lawyer We Are Still Fighting for Freedom of Detained

By Safaa KasraouiRabat – Isaak Charia, a member of the detained Rif activists’ defense team, has denied claims that leading activist Nasser Zafzafi would be released on probation after not being named among King Mohammed VI’s royal pardons this weekend. On July 29, the eve of the 18th anniversary of Throne Day, the King ordered the release of 1,178 prisoners. Those pardoned included 56 members of the Hirak protest movement in the Rif, most notably Salima “Silya” Ziani and Rabii El Ablak. Following the pardon, media reports claimed that Zafzafi and other detainees not included in the list of pardoned might be released on probation to alleviate ongoing tensions in the Rif region.On Monday, Moroccan daily newspaper Akhbar Al Yaoum reported that the detainees’ defense committee had filed a request to award the prisoners a provisional release. This request was reported unsuccessful, leading the committee to file an appeal against the refusal.The newspaper continued that Abdelsadek El Bouchtaoui, a member of the defense committee, said that they were expecting a positive response to the appeal in the upcoming hearing session scheduled for this week.When asked about the validity of news, Charia told Morocco World News that the committee had “no expectation about the provisional release of the remaining detainees,” and that the “battle of the defense is still continuing to defend the remaining detainees.”“Those are just claims, we do not have any speculations on what will come and we do not have an idea about the judge’s reaction regarding the probation request.”Akhbar Al Yaoum added that Abdelmajid Azryah, another defense committee member, stated the legal team had received a report showing that the number of prisoners benefiting from the royal pardon was between 30 and 38, as opposed to the widely reported number of 56.The lawyer added that only ten detainees who were jailed in Al Hoceima’s local prison were released. The source continued that El Bouchtaoui described the royal pardon action as “a positive step, but not enough, because we are seeking the release of all the Rif detainees.”The Hirak movement started after the death of Mouhcine Fikri, a local fish vendor, who was killed by a garbage truck on October 28. Since then, the Rif region has witnessed massive demonstrations resulting in clashes between security forces and protesters. Approximately 178 protesters have been arrested during the eight-month protest period. read more

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Watch Moroccan Shaimae Abdelaziz Wows The Voice Ahla Sawt Jury with

Rabat – Charisma, strong vocals and a notable stage presence. This is how the jury of the Voice Ahla Sawt described Moroccan Shaimae Abdelaziz after her breathtaking blind audition.The young amateur singer performed one of the most difficult songs by Moroccan diva Naima Samih. As Shaimae started signing “Jitak Li Babak Habibi”, three members of the jury pressed the buzzer immediately. Iconic Saudi singer Ahlam Shamsi, a member of the jury, could not resist Shaimae’s beautiful voice as the entire jury became awestruck.The jury also includes Lebanese diva Elissa, legendary Lebanese singer Assi El Helani and renowned Egyptian singer Mohamed Hamaki.After her stunning performance, each jury member tried to convince the talented amateur singer to join their respective teams. Hamaki, however, had a unique way to try to convince Sahima to join his team. The Egyptian singer presented the singer with a ring adorned with “the Voice” icon. The Moroccan singer then chose to join Hamaki’s group.In 2012, Moroccan Morad Bouriki managed to win the Voice title following his distinguished and professional vocal performances throughout the competition. read more

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Benchaaboun Morocco Will Not Privatize ONCF May Sell Maroc Telecom Stakes

Rabat- Economy minister Benchaaboun has said that government will not privatize ONCF, but may sell stakes in Maroc Telecom.Minister of Economy and Finance Mohamed Benchaaboun announced on Tuesday that the National Railway Office (ONCF) is not “eligible” for privatization because it is not a “public limited company.” According to Benchaaboun, ONCF is not a separate legal entity with shares to be purchased and sold on the market, reported Maghreb Arab Press (MAP). The government may consider selling stakes in Maroc Telecom, the country’s main telecommunication company, to increase state resources, Reuters quoted Benchaaboun.Rumors have that the Moroccan Airports Authority (ONDA) may also be privatized.Read Also: #Baraka: Moroccans Call for Boycott of ONCF TrainsBenchaaboun announced Monday, in a parliamentary session to present the 2019 draft budget, that the government seeks to privatize some public companies to improve their governance and help reduce the budget deficit to 3.3 percent of GDP in 2019.Read Also: Court of Auditor: Morocco Must Reduce Deficit and SpendingThe move to increase state resources could generate MAD 8 billion. Increasing taxes on tobacco consumption will generate additional revenue estimated at MAD 1.2 billion in 2019, Benchaaboun asserted.Benchaaboun pointed out that the Moroccan economy requires measures to mobilize resources, control spending, and establish mechanisms to reduce the burden on the investment budget. He also noted the impact which the rising prices of oil and gas, which peaked earlier this month, will have on financial balances.The significant increase of MAD 4.65 billion, 35 percent, in the government’s subsidy fund for cooking gas, flour, and sugar, from the 2018 budget to the 2019 can be explained by the increase of oil prices at the international level.Read Also: Morocco’s Auto, Phosphates Exports to Narrow Account Deficit read more

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UNSG Guterres Wants Morocco and Algeria to Increase Dialogue

Rabat – The Secretary-General’s spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, said that Guterres “has always been very supportive of increased dialogue between Algeria and Morocco.” The two neighboring countries share the world’s longest closed border.Dujarric made his remarks at a press briefing on Wednesday in response to a journalist’s question about King Mohammed VI’s proposal.On Tuesday, King Mohammed VI delivered a speech on the 43rd anniversary of the Green March. In his speech, The King said that Morocco is open to “any proposals and initiatives from Algeria” to re-establish bilateral ties. He added that the bilateral ties between Algeria and Morocco are “not normal” and “much less than acceptable.”The King also called for a political mechanism “to analyze all pending issues in good faith and in a very frank, objective and honest way, using an open-ended agenda, without conditions or exceptions.”“I should like to stress that Morocco is willing to consider the proposals or initiatives Algeria may want to offer in this regard so as to break the stalemate in the relations between the two neighbors and sister nations,” said the King.Dujarric also said that Guterres “welcomes” the support of King Mohammed VI for the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy Horst Kohler, who invited all parties for talks in Geneva December 5-6.The UN chief also commended the “parties and neighbours for responding positively to the invitation of Mr. Kohler for an initial roundtable” to discuss the Western Sahara conflict.According to Dujarric, Guterres also hoped that “this initial roundtable will be the beginning of a process that will lead to a solution of this long-standing conflict.”The roundtable was also highly welcomed by Resolution 2440 adopted by the Security Council on October 31.The resolution has for the first time mentioned Algeria as a party that should contribute and “work constructively” with Kohler to ensure the success of the political process. read more

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Corus Entertainment joins global alliance for tracking social media audiences

Companies in this story: (TSX:CJR.B)The Canadian Press TORONTO — Corus Entertainment Inc. has joined the Global Video Measurement Alliance, which is a new industry effort to determine the effectiveness of social media programming and advertising.The Toronto-based company is one of Canada’s largest producers and distributors of digital content through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.Corus senior vice-president Dervla Kelly says the standardization of social video metrics is long overdue.She heads the Corus social digital agency that has been developing new advertising supported formats to complement the company’s television and radio businesses. Other members of the alliance include Viacom Digital Studios, Ellen Digital Network, Vice Media and BuzzFeed.The alliance was formed in January in association with Tubular Labs of San Francisco, which says its technology tracks and analyzes what’s being watched on various social media platforms around the world. read more

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US newhome sales fell 69 in April

WASHINGTON — Sales of new U.S. homes sank 6.9% in April, driven by a decline in the sale of homes worth less than $300,000 that are generally bought by middle class and first-time buyers.The Commerce Department said Thursday that new homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 673,000 in April, down from 723,000 in March. Still, year-to-date home sales are running 6.7% above the pace set in 2018.Buyers have been helped by lower mortgage rates and a solid job market. Yet higher prices and a lack of sales listings have been an obstacle this year for sales of new and existing homes, limiting the number of people who can afford to buy.The median sales price of a new home jumped 8.8% from a year ago to $342,200.Josh Boak, The Associated Press read more

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Ban Kimoon calls for restraint from Israel and Lebanon after exchange of

8 February 2007Expressing deep concern after Lebanon’s armed forces and Israeli troops exchanged fire across the Blue Line that separates the two countries, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for maximum restraint, warning that such actions violate last year’s Security Council resolution that ended the month of fighting in the region. Later in the day the Council itself echoed this concern in a press statement on Wednesday’s incident, which occurred in the area of Yaroun. The 15-member body looked forward to a tripartite meeting called for by the commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the peacekeeping operation in the area which was greatly enhanced last year by Council resolution 1701 that ended the conflict between Israel and Hizbollah in Lebanon.“The exchange of fire, which was initiated by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) after an IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) bulldozer crossed the technical fence in an apparent attempt to clear the area between the technical fence and the Blue Line of mines, constitutes a breach of the cessation of hostilities as laid out in Security Council resolution 1701,” a spokesperson for Mr. Ban told reporters in New York.“All such violations of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) endanger the fragile calm that prevails in southern Lebanon. The Secretary-General calls on all parties to exercise maximum restraint, avoid provocative actions and display responsibility in implementing resolution 1701 (2006).” UNIFIL had deployed to the area immediately after hostilities began and was in contact with both sides urging them to cease, said spokesperson Michele Montas, adding that Mr. Ban is also calling on them to make use of the tripartite mechanism to avoid similar incidents in the future.Speaking to reporters after the Security Council heard a briefing on the incident, Ambassador Peter Burian of Slovakia, which this month holds the revolving presidency, said Council members reaffirmed their support for UNIFIL and also reiterated their call for the full implementation of resolution 1701.“The members of the Council expressed deep concern about this incident. They look forward to the ascertaining of all the facts by UNIFIL and to the forthcoming tripartite meeting asked for by UNIFIL Force Commander,” he said.“The members of the Council appealed to all parties to respect the Blue Line in its entirety, to exercise utmost restraint and to refrain from any action that could further escalate the situation.”The enhanced UNIFIL, which is monitoring the end of hostilities after last year’s conflict, as well as carrying out de-mining and other humanitarian work, now numbers over 12,000 although resolution 1701 allows its strength to reach a maximum of 15,000 troops, while also mandating a complete Israeli withdrawal, together with Lebanese army deployment in southern Lebanon. It is commanded by Major-General Claudio Graziano. read more

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UNICEF condemns indiscriminate mortar attack on Somali hospital

“We deplore the indiscriminate shelling of a medical facility,” said Christian Balslev-Olesen, UNICEF’s Representative in Somalia. “It is an action that is totally unacceptable and one for which no justification can be given.”According to UN estimates, 340,000 people – roughly one-third of the city’s population – have fled the deadly clashes in the capital Mogadishu since the start of February, and this number is expected to increase as more information becomes available.“Where is the accountability in this conflict?” Mr. Balslev-Olesen asked. “Every day thousands of displaced people – most of them women and children – are living a nightmare of violence” and “enduring a perilous and intolerable existence.”He also voiced frustration that the agency’s efforts to deliver urgently needed relief supplies is being hampered by the insecurity. “We cannot access our warehouses in Mogadishu and we cannot effectively reach the people who need our assistance the most.”According to UNICEF, child protection monitors in the capital report that children have been victims of indiscriminate shooting and shelling. Displacement is also forcing women to leave their children unattended as they search for food, water and shelter. The agency is working with its partners on the ground to identify and reunite hundreds of children who have lost their parents during the violence with their families.Since January, almost 17,000 cases of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) have been reported in central and southern Somalia, which includes Mogadishu and surrounding areas. As of mid-April, there have been 593 deaths and nearly 40 confirmed cases of cholera.UNICEF also appealed for $11.5 million to meet the nutrition, health, education and protection needs of children affected by the conflict.The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other organizations have finished their first round of supplying aid in the small town of Afgooye, 30 kilometres west of the capital, and now home to 35,000 people who escaped the hostilities in Mogadishu.Among other supplies, the agency provided plastic sheeting to the displaced, who had previously been sleeping under trees.“They now at least have a shelter to protect them and their children from the scorching sun, the chilly nights and the soaking rains,” UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler said at a press briefing in Geneva.UNHCR plans to begin another phase of distributing relief supplies tomorrow morning, which will help a further 13,500 people. Supplies were airlifted from Dubai to the town of Baidoa, 200 kilometres from Afgooye. Trucks carrying the items arrived in Afgooye after being blocked yesterday when Ethiopian soldiers closed a bridge on the town’s outskirts.The agency’s Somali staff in the town state that Mogadishu has become a ghost town, with more than half of its neighbourhoods now deserted.Meanwhile, according to his spokesperson Michele Montas, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this week informed the Security Council in a letter that he intends to extend the mandate of his Special Representative for the country François Lonsény Fall by one year.With the renewed mandate, Mr. Fall will serve in his current position until 8 May 2008. 27 April 2007The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today condemned a mortar attack on a hospital in the Somali capital Mogadishu, which has been wracked by escalating violence in recent weeks. read more

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UN African Union officials meet with nonsignatories to Darfur peace accord

Over the past week, the UN-AU Joint Mediation Support Team, led by the UN’s Pekka Haavisto and the AU’s Sam Ibok, has held talks with groups based in North Darfur and in Asmara, according to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS).The DPA, which covers security, wealth-sharing and power-sharing, was signed in May 2006 between the Sudanese Government and part of the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) with the aim of ending the fierce fighting in Darfur. The team met with Eritrean officials in Asmara to discuss the next steps of the political process as outlined in the road map presented by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s envoy, Jan Eliasson, which calls on all parties to cease hostilities and prepare for forthcoming negotiations.Together with Eritrean officials, the team also met with First Vice President Salva Kiir in Juba in southern Sudan on 2 July to discuss the role of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the political process. Mr. Ban has said there are four main tracks in which the UN is addressing the Darfur crisis: humanitarian, political, peacekeeping and development. At a press conference in Geneva yesterday, he called for stepping up the political process, which includes implementing existing agreements. On the planned UN-AU hybrid peacekeeping operation, he said, “the people in Darfur have suffered too much and the international community has waited too long. It is now high time for us to take necessary action and I hope that the Sudanese Government will implement faithfully the commitment they have made.” Meanwhile in Accra, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said on Monday that attention must be paid not only to fighters but also civic players in Darfur. “Apart from the factions, there is also a need to be more inclusive,” she told reporters. “There are women’s groups and there are other civil society organizations and these have to be part” of the solution.“This is a process that will take a bit of time but the two envoys have clearly set up a road map which we think is going fine and the United Nations is very much part of the support,” she said. 3 July 2007Senior officials from the United Nations and the African Union (AU) have met with the non-signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) to discuss next steps in the political process aimed at ending hostilities in the strife-torn region of Sudan, the UN Mission in the country said today. read more

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UN envoy urges Liberians to prevent mob violence another police station opened

13 August 2007Speaking at the opening of a new police station in Liberia, which was built by Nigerian blue helmets, the United Nations envoy to the West African country has called on local people to prevent mob violence while a senior Liberian police officer has urged his colleagues to be “servants of the community.” The station, which is in New Kru Town Community in the capital Monrovia, will be staffed by officers from Liberia’s National Police (LNP) and will serve around 28,000 people in the surrounding area, the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) said in a press release. “You should report any criminal activity or suspicious behaviour to the police,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Alan Doss, said at the weekend opening ceremony. “Any return to mob violence could be dangerous for Liberia’s stability. Do not be misled by rumours.” Mr. Doss thanked the Nigerian UN peacekeepers for constructing the police station and also reassured local people that security remained UNMIL’s top priority, pointing out that additional police and military patrols had been conducting night patrols in high crime areas. Also speaking at the opening, LNP Deputy Inspector-General Gayflor Tarpeh encouraged the police officers of the New Kru Town station to be “servants and not bosses of the people in the community,” adding that they must “dispense justice without fear or favour.” The building of the new police station is the latest of ongoing efforts by the UN to help Liberia rebuild after a brutal 14-year civil war. read more

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Democracy not static but an ongoing process Bangladeshi leader tells UN

Elections were scheduled in Bangladesh in late January, but following political violence, a state of emergency was declared that month. Since then, the country has been run by a non-party caretaker Government.“We have learned that democracy is not an event, it is an ongoing process,” Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed said at the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate. “It is not just about casting votes and changing governments; it is about social justice, accountability and empowerment of the people.”Bangladesh has long been plagued by corruption which has severely undermined democracy. Corruption spawned a “winner-takes-all electoral system where the spoils of electoral victory were so great and the stakes of winning so high that the political process became hopelessly polarized, leading to a paralysis in even ordinary governance,” he noted.To allow the nation’s democratic spirit to flourish, “we must first free our politics from the clutches of corruption and violence,” he added.The challenges – political violence, poor governance and corruption – Bangladesh faces are not unique to developing countries, Mr. Ahmed pointed out, since in such nations, especially post-conflict ones, “democracy does not necessarily ensure good governance.”Therefore, the international community needs to deepen its understanding of both the problems and the efforts of the developing world to rebuild their political and social institutions. 27 September 2007The leader of Bangladesh told the General Assembly today that democracy is a “dynamic and continual” process and that the international community can learn from the South Asian nation’s efforts at consolidating stability. read more

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Top UN relief official visits Ethiopias volatile Ogaden region

27 November 2007The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator arrived in Ethiopia today to visit the strife-torn Ogaden region where over 640,000 people are in urgent need of food, water, medical supplies and other assistance. “This was a valuable opportunity to get an impression for myself of the situation on the ground, and to see the work the UN team has already done to confront the serious humanitarian challenges in the region,” said Mr. Holmes, who is also UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs. Humanitarian conditions have worsened in the region in the past several months due to fighting between the Ethiopian National Defence Forces and the Ogaden National Liberation Front. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the world body has dispatched more than 7,300 metric tonnes of food to the five military zones in the region. Preparations are also being finalized to deploy 15 mobile health teams including 10 in the area of conflict. Mr. Holmes discussed how the UN can further help during meetings with local officials in the regional capital of Jijiga. He also discussed ways to improve the humanitarian situation in Ogaden with representatives of the UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in the area. From Jijiga, Mr. Holmes travelled to Kabridehar, where the UN recently established a field presence, and met with government officials, UN staff and NGO personnel to discuss the main needs in the area and how to address them, as well as the challenges that affect relief operations. Mr. Holmes said he plans to raise the issues of access and freedom of commercial activity in his meetings with senior Ethiopian officials, including the Prime Minister, tomorrow in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa. He is also scheduled to meet the chief of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) and heads of UN agencies before departing the country for Sudan, the next leg of his current three-nation tour which will also include a stop in Kenya for talks on massive displacement in neighbouring Somalia. read more

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UN relief wing hails private sector support to aid appeals after Myanmar

Private sector donors have emerged as a vital contributor to international appeals for aid after last month’s devastating cyclone in Myanmar, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.About $30 million in contributions has been provided by the private sector, including $10 million raised by the various national committees of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) around the world.OCHA said the biggest individual private contributors include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has given $3 million to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and Total oil company, which has given $2 million and provided fuel to transport relief supplies.Many companies are channelling their donations through the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which is managed by OCHA so that funds can be quickly directed in the wake of a disaster.More than 134,000 people are dead or missing as a result of Cyclone Nargis and the subsequent tidal wave, which struck Myanmar on 2-3 May, and as many as 2.4 million people are affected. The Ayeyarwady Delta area and the country’s most populous city, Yangon, are among the hardest-hit areas.Meanwhile, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) has unveiled its action plan to try to prevent the spread of dengue fever, which is endemic to Myanmar. The number of cases is expected to rise because of a forecast increase in mosquito breeding sites after the cyclone. 19 June 2008Private sector donors have emerged as a vital contributor to international appeals for aid after last month’s devastating cyclone in Myanmar, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today. read more

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UN confident of success at Copenhagen climate summit with US on board

19 November 2009With just 17 days left before the United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen, a top UN official today predicted success for a framework accord including specific reduction targets from the United States, the only hold-out among industrialized nations, with a formal treaty to follow within six months. “There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that it [Copenhagen] will yield a success,” the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Yvo de Boer, told a news conference in New York, saying President Barack Obama’s presence in the Danish capital “would make a huge difference.”As the three main points that must come out of Copenhagen, he cited individualized targets “in black and white” by industrialized States to reduce global warming greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, a list of actions by developing nations, and clear short- and long-term financing to support developing countries on both mitigation and adaptation.At an informal meeting of the General Assembly held today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, citing various emission and deforestation reduction targets announced recently by Indonesia, Russia, the Republic of Korea, Brazil, Japan and the European Union, also voiced confidence in reaching a deal in Copenhagen that sets the stage for a binding treaty as soon as possible in 2010.He put short-term financing from richer nations to the developing countries at $10 billion in fast-track funding annually over the next three years to jump-start low-emission growth, limit deforestation and finance immediate adaptation measures, while medium-term needs are estimated at $100 billion annually through 2020.Mr. de Boer told the Assembly that aggregate pledges made so far by industrialized countries for mid-term reductions fell short of the target of 20 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, which the scientific community calls necessary to avoid more disastrous change, adding: “Industrialized countries clearly need to raise their level of ambition.”Also, he said, without resolving the political issues of mitigation and finance, reaching agreement in Copenhagen would be impossible in the battle to curb climate change, with its impact already being felt in droughts, changed rainfall patterns and floods.General Assembly President Ali Treki told the same meeting that progress at Copenhagen is not optional – “it is imperative to our very survival.”He later added at a news conference that the world is now conscious of the dangers of climate change for everyone, not just the most vulnerable countries, and that it is in the interest of everyone to “achieve a good result” in Copenhagen.A numerical mid-term target and a commitment to financial support from the US are essential “and I believe it can be done,” Mr. de Boer added at his news conference.“I’ve seen some recent reports that say that Copenhagen has failed even before it starts and I must say that those reports are simply wrong.” He cited new commitments and pledges coming in “almost every day” from both industrialized and developing countries. The political leadership that so many heads of State and government promised at the September climate summit at UN Headquarters in New York “is alive, it is well and it will lead to success in Copenhagen,” he declared.“Rich countries must put at least $10 billion [for developing countries] on the table in Copenhagen to kick-start immediate action, and they must list what each individual country will provide and how funds will be raised to deliver very large, stable and predictable finance into the future without having to constantly renegotiate the commitments every few years.” The conference also needs to launch immediate action for international cooperation on the pressing needs to preserve and sustain forests, he said, noting: “If the lungs of the world collapse, the rest will die.”Finally, governments must agree in a tight deadline to finalize it all into a legal treaty, he added, “and that means no delay, no more long drawn-out process. For all this Copenhagen will be the turning point where talking about action stops and taking action begins.” Originally it had been hoped that the treaty could emerge at the conference, set to begin on 7 December.On financing for developing countries, Copenhagen must provide much more clarity as to who will be contributing what, “because another collective pledge that leaves unclear what individual shares of that pledge are doesn’t really help you very much,” stressed Mr. de Boer.Asked about the position of the US, which never ratified the 1997 emission reduction treaty known as the Kyoto Protocol, he replied: “I think that President Obama has shown incredible courage and leadership… He wants a strong domestic policy in this area not just because of climate change, but also because of issues of energy security and energy prices… he wants a deal in Copenhagen.”Mr. Obama was now focusing on health care and climate change will come up early next year, but “having said that, I am confident that the President of the United States can come to Copenhagen with a target and with a financial commitment,” he added. read more

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Ban receives report from probe into deadly crackdown in Guinea

Mr. Ban received the report and is “now considering” it, his spokesperson said in a statement issued today, adding that the Secretary-General will then send the report to all relevant parties, including the Guinean Government, the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the UN Security Council.The report is based on the work of the three-member independent commission, which visited the Guinean capital, Conakry, between 25 November and 4 December. Its members are Mohamed Bedjaoui, Françoise Ngendahayo Kayiramirwa and Pramila Patten.At least 150 demonstrators are thought to have died and many others were raped when Government forces opened fire on protesters in Conakry in 28 September, sparking condemnation from senior UN officials, including Mr. Ban and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. 17 December 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has begun examining the report of the International Commission of Inquiry set up by the United Nations to investigate the deadly crackdown on unarmed demonstrators in Guinea in September. read more

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